Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101
Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101
With Spring Training well under way and the first games starting very soon, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made.
Last Year’s Records
Tampa Bay – 96-66
New York – 95-67
Boston – 89-73
Toronto – 85-77
Baltimore – 66-96
Generally, this is most likely someone who is among the highest paid players on the team, and usually one of the best players on the team as well. It generally seems to be a position player, but some teams may have a pitcher as the face of the team. And of course, there’s always the possibility that a team simply doesn’t have one player who stands out from the rest. With that, here’s my thoughts on each franchise:
I know I skipped that humongous contract that Jayson Werth signed last weekend, and I plan on getting back to that, but this signing seemed to come so far out of left field that I felt I needed to write about it first. Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe is reporting (via MLBTR) that the Red Sox have not completed their offseason spending spree, and have agreed to a contract with the top position player free agent on the market, Carl Crawford, on a 7 year, $142 million contract. Before I get into the impact on the involved parties, let’s note this: Crawford will now be the highest paid outfielder (based on Average Annual Value) in the history of baseball.
From the Red Sox Perspective
Clearly, they felt that they needed to make a gigantic splash after not reaching the playoffs last season. Crawford will bring them an excellent defender, a definitive speedster to pair with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and another middle of the order type hitter. I am not entirely sure how this lineup will be constructed, but this seems like a definite possibility:
Of course, this could change by having Gonzalez and Youkilis switch to offset having too many left handed batters in a row, but I’m not sure I see a lineup that makes a lot of sense for the Red Sox that doesn’t put Crawford at the top of it. They don’t really need him to be a #3 hitter type like the Rays did, and will probably not use him that way as a result.
I find it extremely interesting to see what the Red Sox are going to do long-term. They have now committed to Crawford through 2017, and seems like they have spent an amazing amount of long term money in the past few offseasons.
That said, they do have J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, and Mike Cameron all coming off the payroll come 2012. Speaking of Cameron, I’m not sure where he plays coming into 2011 unless they are completely banking on needing another full-time outfielder for when J.D. Drew or Jacoby Ellsbury get hurt. Always a possibility at this point.
From the Rays Perspective
The Rays will receive two compensation draft picks for losing Crawford to the Red Sox. They will receive the 24th pick for sure (the Red Sox’ first round pick), and a pick in the sandwich round as well. The only way that they could possibly lose this pick is if the Red Sox were to also sign Cliff Lee (based on the Elias rankings reported by MLBTR). The team had already established previously that they were extremely unlikely to retain Crawford, as they would simply be outbid for his services. Thankfully for them, they have a player who appears to possess similar tools (which I also wrote up last year) in Desmond Jennings.
What This Means for the Free Agent Market At Large
Crawford was pretty far and away the top prize on the position player side of the free agent market. As a result, his contract may start the dominoes going for a lot of the other secondary free agents on the market. To me, the players who could stand to benefit the most include Adrian Beltre, Cliff Lee, and Carl Pavano. The rising tide raises all ships, and Beltre now is the best offensive option available who is still on the market. Pavano’s value is helped if Lee’s value goes up, and with the Red Sox taking these shots across the bow of the Yankees, I am not sure I see a scenario where the Yankees don’t offer Lee the most money of any team.
Honestly, I’m not sure that there is a future free agent that this particularly affects as of right now. There is the possibility that the Red Sox don’t get Adrian Gonzalez inked to an extension. (As of this writing, I can’t find anything involving the Red Sox that definitively states a contract extension is complete.), which could affect the First Baseman market come next offseason, but it seems likely to me that someone is going to get paid to play 1B by the Red Sox starting in 2011 regardless of whether or not it is Adrian Gonzalez.
My Overall Thoughts
This one really came out of left field (not to be punny), as I didn’t really think that the Red Sox would go out and attempt to sign Crawford. I think he’s a class guy that will fit in well with the organization, and will definitely be able to take on the role of the “face of the franchise”, but will not necessarily need to do so. It seems a bit like an overreaction to not making the playoffs in 2010, but it’s hard to argue with spending your money on a player of the caliber of Crawford. The contract’s length does concern me some, as Crawford is a player who does rely on speed pretty significantly, and the contract will pay him until he is 36 years old. But otherwise, a job well done by the Red Sox, as it clearly makes the other teams that were chasing him weaker.
Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. Next up is the review of my OF rankings. I ranked 45 outfielders originally, and you can find them here.
Yahoo’s Top 25 Outfielders
Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever), and the Walter Johnson awards (Top Pitcher). Only one set of awards left to give out, and it’s the big one: The Stan Musial award, given to each league’s most valuable player.
Every season there seems to be a real debate as to what should be considered for the league’s most valuable player. It’s become pretty clear that there is (or at least should be) a difference between who is the best player and who was the most valuable to his team this season. Well, here’s my criteria (at least how I see it anyway):
Value to their Team
It becomes extremely hard for me to argue that a player who has a great season on a team with a lot of great players is more valuable than a player who has a great season on a team that doesn’t have a lot of good players on it. When I look at it, I start looking at how the team would perform without the player. If the player I am looking at were to miss extended time, would their team be able to easily replace what he does, or would they struggle until he returned to form?
The Complete Player
It becomes extremely important in my opinion, that for a player to be the most valuable player, they have to provide at least some value on both sides of the game. Clearly, there is value to a player who plays excellent defense in addition to a player who hits extremely well. To me, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a player needs to steal a lot of bases and hit a lot of home runs on the offensive side, but they should clearly be pretty close to elite for what they do. And in terms of players who are primarily designated hitters, to me they have to be far and away the most obvious candidate for them to get a lot of votes. While it is a position in the game, I think that it is important to find a way to offset the value they are not providing in the field.
I tend to view pitchers the same way as designated hitters in terms of the most valuable player. They would need to be unbelievably dominant to move ahead of top level position players.
The Big Stats
At this point, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore what the statistics tell us overall. It becomes hard to argue that there isn’t a judgment to be made when looking at value with regard to home runs, stolen bases, runs scored, runs batted in, and batting average, among many others. That said, it is something I look at, but it doesn’t become a spot where I just make a judgment based entirely on the statistics.
With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the AL Stan Musial award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 10 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.
For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.
Team #7: Tampa Bay Rays
General Managers(since 1998)
Chuck LaMar (1998-2005): 518-775
Andrew Friedman (2006-Current): 308-340
All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.
|Position||Name||Acquired||Years with Org.
||Stats with Organization
|C||John Jaso||2003 – 12th Rd||7||91 gm, .280/.390/.398, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 4 SB||Currently with Org.|
|1B||Jorge Cantu||Int’l FA – 1998||9||332 gm, .272/.308/.448, 44 HR, 200 RBI||Traded to CIN – 7/28/07|
||Int’l FA – 2007||3||344 gm, .281/.354/.393, 14 HR, 104 RBI, 29 SB||Traded to PIT – 11/3/09|
|3B||Evan Longoria||2006 – 1st Rd (3)||4||3 All-Star Appearances, 2008 Rookie of the Year, 1 Gold Glove, 1 Silver Slugger
406 gm, .282/.359/.523, 79 HR, 284 RBI, 31 SB
|Currently with Org.|
|SS||Reid Brignac||2004 – 2nd Rd||6||126 gm, .254/.298/.385, 7 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB||Currently with Org.|
|LF||Josh Hamilton||1999 – 1st Rd (1)||8||No Major League Appearances with Org.||Selected by CHC – 12/7/06|
|CF||B.J. Upton||2002 – 1st Rd (2)||8||634 gm, .261/.347/.411, 61 HR, 271 RBI, 160 SB||Currently with Org.|
||1999 – 2nd Rd||11||4 All Star Appearances
1202 gm, .295/.336/.441, 99 HR, 570 RBI, 403 SB
|Currently with Org.|
|DH||Aubrey Huff||1998 – 5th Rd||8||799 gm, .287/.343/.477, 128 HR, 449 RBI, 20 SB||Traded to HOU – 7/12/06|
|SP||David Price||2007 – 1st Rd (1)||3||1 All-Star Appearance
25-13, 3.55 ERA, 307 IP, 268 K, 123 BB, 1.283 WHIP
|Currently with Org.|
||2000 – 16th Rd||10||55-47, 4.14 ERA, 939 IP, 768 K, 207 BB||Currently with Org.|
|SP||Jeff Niemann||2004 – 1st Rd (4)||6||25-12, 3.88 ERA, 341.1 IP, 243 K, 114 BB, 1.307 WHIP||Currently with Org.|
||2004 – 3rd Rd||6||12-11, 4.25 ERA, 163 IP, 118 K, 64 BB||Currently with Org.|
||2005 – 4th Rd||5||3-0, 2.05 ERA, 26.1 IP, 25 K, 4 BB, 0.759 WHIP||Currently with Org.|
|RP||Jason Hammel||2002 – 10th Rd||6||7-15, 5.90 ERA, 207.1 IP, 140 K, 96 BB||Traded to COL – 4/5/09|
|RP||Brian Stokes||Amateur FA – 1998||9||3-7, 6.46 ERA, 86.1 IP, 50 K, 34 BB||Purchased by NYM – 11/28/07|
|RP||Andy Sonnanstine||2004 – 13th Rd||6||28-29, 5.23 ERA, 492 IP, 326 K, 120 BB||Currently with Org.|
|RP||Chad Gaudin||2001 – 34th Rd||3||3-2, 4.25 ERA, 82.2 IP, 53 K, 32 BB||Traded to TOR – 12/12/04|
|RP||Josh Butler||2006 – 2nd Rd||2||No Major League Appearances with Org.||Traded to MIL – 4/22/08|
|CL||Dan Wheeler||1996 – 34th Rd||5+1||13-22, 4.30 ERA, 18 SV, 228 K, 82 BB||Currently with Org.|
||2003 – 1st Rd (1)||4||192 gm, .293/.319/.419, 16 HR, 103 RBI, 12 SB||Traded to MIN – 11/28/07|
|BN||Matt Diaz||1999 – 17th Rd||5||14 gm, .167/.265/.367, HR, 3 RBI||Selected by BAL – 2/22/05|
|BN||Jonny Gomes||2001 – 18th Rd||6||415 gm, .235/.329/.455, 66 HR, 184 RBI, 30 SB||Left via Free Agency – 12/12/08|
|BN||Paul Hoover||1997 – 23rd Rd||5||8 gm, .190/.190/.190, 2 RBI||Left via Free Agency – 10/14/02|
||2004 – 8th Rd||5||No Major League Appearances with Org.||Traded to BAL – 8/15/09|
June Amateur Draft
The Rays have done extremely well in the draft, and it is especially good to see that they have done well with their picks since they had so many in the top 10 in the first few years of their organization. This also seems like one of the teams that has retained the most of their prospects as well, as 12 of the 25 players listed above are still with the organization. Clearly, having the top pick 3 times and a top-4 pick 3 more times in the last 11 seasons is going to bring a lot of talent into the system. The team is finally seeing the fruits of their system, with a World Series appearance in 2008 and a team that is in contention here in 2010. The problem for them remains the same, in that they will become constrained by payroll soon enough. But the system remains extremely flush with high end prospects, and should allow the team to remain in contention even as free agents leave for greener pastures.
International Free Agency
The Rays have not done a whole lot in the international markets, as they generally are not big spenders in any market. But they have found a couple of nice players in Jorge Cantu and Aki Iwamura who both provided some decent value to the team while there. Iwamura probably has become more valuable as a trade piece, as he was moved to the Pirates for Jesse Chavez, who was part of the trade to acquire current closer Rafael Soriano. Other than that though, they really haven’t done much, and with the production they’ve received from the draft, there really hasn’t been as much of a need to work this market.
A-. The Rays have done extremely well to acquire not only high end talent, but also a lot of it. Through the draft, they have done extremely well, and their success on the field has finally come to the Tampa market. It would be nice to see them do more in the international markets, but if they can continue to draft with this level of success, they really won’t need to improve much there. And with prospects like Desmond Jennings, Matt Moore, and Alex Torres down in the system ready to be called upon as well, they are set for the future about as well as can be expected.
Part 3 of the 2003 BA Almanac Series takes a look at the Top 20 Prospect Lists created by BA for each of the minor leagues.
Players on More than One List
Brandon Phillips – Eastern League (AA) and International League (AAA)
Aaron Heilman – Eastern League (AA) and International League (AAA)
Mark Teixeira – Texas League (AA) and Florida State League (High-A)
Jose Reyes – Eastern League (AA) and Florida State League (High-A)
Hanley Ramirez – NY Penn League (SS-A) and Gulf Coast League (Rookie)
#1 Overall in Each League
International League – Carl Crawford (TAM)
Pacific Coast League – Jesse Foppert (SF)
Eastern League – Jose Reyes (NYM)
Southern League – Jake Peavy (SD)
Texas League – Mark Teixeira (TEX)
California League – Rocco Baldelli (TAM)
Carolina League – Sean Burnett (PIT)
Florida State League – Mark Teixeira (TEX)
Midwest League – Joe Mauer (MIN)
Sally League – Gavin Floyd (CHW)
NY-Penn League – Hanley Ramirez (BOS)
Northwest League – Andy Sisco (CHC)
Appalachian League – Jeff Francoeur (ATL)
Pioneer League – James Loney (LAD)
Arizona Rookie League – Felix Pie (CHC)
Gulf Coast Rookie League – Hanley Ramirez (BOS)
My Thoughts from the Lists
When you look at the two AAA lists, I find it interesting to see how their careers have gone:
I believe that Major League teams view players who make it to AAA as at least a reasonable chance to play in the Majors, so this doesn’t really surprise me that none of BA’s top 40 failed to play in the Majors for at least 1 game.
Of course, there are definitely some players who had less than stellar careers that come from this list, including:
Some other notes:
Overall, it’s really interesting to me to see what hindsight can tell us now that it has been nearly 8 years since this was published. Looking at the performance that the players on the list provided, it is pretty clear to me that the prospect lists were very accurate at the time, and clearly reflected a lot of research on the whole by the staff over at BA. But them, just like the rest of us, are pretty much guessing sometimes when it comes to prospects and how they will turn out once they get to the Majors, if they get there at all.
If the Playoffs Started Today
Tampa Bay Rays (55-36) vs. Texas Rangers (53-39)
Chicago White Sox (50-41) vs. New York Yankees (58-33)
Colorado Rockies (50-41) vs. Atlanta Braves (54-38)
St. Louis Cardinals (51-41) vs. San Diego Padres (54-37)
Top Stories and Weekly Links
From the Twitter Followers and Friends
If you aren’t yet, you can follow me over at Twitter here. These are some of the better reads I found from the previous week.
Upcoming Posts This Week:
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: I will be continuing on with my series of posts about the 2003 BA Almanac, going over both the Minor League All-Stars the Top 20 Prospects by League, and the 2002 Top 100 Prospect List
Friday: Trade Retrospective of Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs. This one is a huge trade, since 4 teams were involved in it, and also clearly had an impact on the pennant races as well.
I also wanted to let everyone know that in addition to writing for Fake Teams, I am also now a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. The group of over 200 blogs has writers who cover nearly every aspect of baseball you could think of, and honestly a couple I had not thought of yet.
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These awards can be found here in October with links back to the voters, ensuring transparancy and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball arguments.
Over the coming weeks, I will be taking a look at a lot of them (there are so many!), and may potentially writeup a few of them. We’ll see what happens, but I’m really excited to be here!
One Other Thing
Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:
Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign. Now we need your
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Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:
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